By Russell Edge

14th Apr, 2018 | 6:58pm

Newcastle must cash in on Benitez favourite after admission over hopes of rival switch


While Newcastle United boss may have previously have had a reputation of constantly rotating his side, he appears to have changed his tactics for the current campaign.

The Magpies have rarely seen mass changes to the starting XI and more recently there has been an air of predictability over the line up ahead of match day, with only enforced changes through both injury and suspension coming into play.

However, of those who could be considered regulars in the Newcastle side, there is one man leading the way in terms of his Premier League appearances – Spanish attacker Ayoze Perez.

The attacking midfielder has missed out on just two of the Magpies’ top flight matches this season, one more appearance than fellow forwards Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle, and has recently hit a hot streak of form with two goals, both match winners, in as many games.

His regularity in the senior side shows just how much trust Rafael Benitez places in the 24-year-old, which is why it would have come as a big shock to hear that his fellow countryman was considering an exit in the summer – and to a Premier League rival, no less.

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Speaking on Spanish radio station Radio Club Tenerife, as quoted by the Daily Mail, he said: “My priority is to keep playing in the Premier League and if it’s to take a step forward in my career then even better.

“I’m happy at Newcastle but I don’t know what will happen in the summer.

“I don’t know what is going to happen – I just want to finish the season as strong as possible and hopefully something good will come along in the future.”

There can be no questions over whether Perez has been a loyal servant to Newcastle but his comments suggest his head is elsewhere, and if that is the case, then a summer exit may well be on the cards – but on the Magpies’ terms.

Benitez has built a squad all pulling in the same direction and there cannot be any dissident voices among the side, and the Spaniard has put himself in the firing line.

Considering the cash the club could pull in for his sale, and the fact his performances have been hit and miss, pulling that trigger is a must.

In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club are eyeing up a stunning double swoop from their fierce rivals.

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